1963 Road Test of the Chevrolet Stingray Gran Sport Racer
A Lightweight Bomb . . . Even in '63
5 September 1997We did this test in 1963. As there are probably only two of the four lightweight 1962 Chevrolet Gran Sports Cobra fighters left in existence and still whoooping it up in vintage racing, we thought we'd take our old test out of mothballs and tell you about this unique Zora Arkus Duntov racer.
-- Bill Maloney
This has got to come in under the heading of scoops as last weekend we had the opportunity to track test the much talked about but seldom seen lightweight Stingray from the now defunct GM Competition dept. As you expect from an 1870 LB car with all the competition goodies it is a bomb...loud, quick, hairy and responsive.
The car is one of two built by Duntov and his crew and has been in development for quite some time. After about investing $400,000 in the experiment GM, for reasons of their own decided to get out of the racing business. Our test car was owned by Chevrolet dealer Dick Doane of Dundee, Il and was delivered to us at Meadowdale Raceway by engineer Tony Basura.
The car was painstakingly designed and built. Every part was engineered with the goal of keeping the weight down and as such all parts carried a part code number and weight listing. The overall dimensions are identical to the standard Vet but the frame and some other parts are tubular and hand welded. The windshield is glass but the side and rear windows are plastic.
It was a good day for car testing at Meadowdale...sunny and clear and not too many cars practicing. Basura fired up the hot Chevy motor and the roar was deafening. Two chrome exhaust stacks protruded from each side of the car to carry the gasses back behind the drivers cockpit. Seated in the lightweight we surveyed the interior...all business. Aircraft type instruments, 8000 rpm tach, 200mph speedo, lightweight seats and well placed/spaced pedals for heel and toe activity. I took a slow lap to become acquainted with the monster. Steering, of course, was quick...two turns from lock to lock. The close ratio gearbox was smooth and positive and well positioned. The first sensation however was of a feeling of lightness...if that_s possible to feel. I thought that with all this power and light weight the car was going to be skittish...and I was right. I soon found as I increased my speed that the 4-wheel disk brakes need warming up and when they were warm they were neat. There was no shoulder harness in the car and I was flopping around....Meadowdale is a hairy race track. The car understeers which is a tribute to the way it was suspended. The rear view mirror was worthless.
So in a moment of false confidence I punched going into Meadowdales long downhill pit straight coming off the Monza wall. I was busy believe me, so busy I couldn't keep my eyes on the speedo. At about 6500 rpm I was getting the hang of it and went on to have a grand time as Meadowdale is a torque track and because of its many turns and two uphill sections you're in second and third gear all day.
This Stingray is a barn burner and has got to be driven/raced by a Corvette person.. and that guy is going to win some races with this brute.
It's future: The car was homologated by the FIA because GM seriously intended to build 400 units to sell at $10,000 each but when GM pulled out of racing the FIA approval was withdrawn so this car designed to go up against Cobras and Corvettes in A Production now runs modified against Ferraris and sports racers.
So with this in mind Dick Doane is installing a 450 hp motor, reducing the weight another 200 lbs, signing a hot shoe driver and is going Chapparal hunting. Next stop is Elkhart Lake June 22-23.
Bill Maloney, 1963